Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Dead at 82

Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Dead at 82

Bruno Sammartino, who held the championship belt of the organization that came to be known as WWE for more than 11 years in the 1960s and '70s and then continued to perform as professional wrestling exploded in the decade that followed, has died at the age of 82, the company announced Wednesday.

According to KDKA in Pittsburgh, Sammartino passed away with his wife and two kids at his side.

He was originally from Italy, after being born in Pizzoferrato, Abruzzo, in 1935, but moved to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh.

Bruno Sammartino wrestles “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
Bruno Sammartino wrestles “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff

His first reign of 2,803 days (May 1963-January 1971) is the longest single reign for the company's signature title, while his second reign of 1,237 days (December 1973-April 1977) is the fifth-longest in the world of the heavyweight championship. He is generally regarded as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

A rift grew between Sammartino and WWF after having learned he was shorted on his pay during his second title run in the early '80s, which would mark the beginning of the "Living Legend's" issues with WWF.

"One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business", WWE chairman Vince McMahon said.

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And on March 28, 2015, ahead of WrestleMania 31, Sammartino inducted Larry Zbyszko into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Following his retirement from the sport in 1981, Sammartino would later serve as a commentator. He was WWE's biggest and most recognizable star for almost two decades until the launch of Hulkamania and the company's national expansion through the creation of WrestleMania. "Everything I learned was from Bruno". "I was lucky enough to spend some time with Bruno, and the man exemplified class".

Even more inspiring than the success and longevity of Sammartino's pro wrestling career was his backstory, which sounds right out of a movie. "A true friend.and one of the toughest people I've ever met", Levesque tweeted.

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WWE released the following statement about the passing of Sammartino.

We at Wrestling Rumors extend our deepest condolences to the entire Sammartino family during this hard time.

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